Physicians are held to high standards of behavior, and preserving their public images is inexorably linked to maintaining their professional careers. Medical boards can take action against doctors that behave inappropriately on their own time or on the job, depending on the state. Medical licenses are issued by state medical boards, and they also have the power to revoke them after complaints are investigated.
Reasons for Disciplinary Actions
Some of the most frequent reasons for revoking a license revolve around physicians deviating from the standard of care or misconduct. Examples are failing to respond to trauma calls or diagnose an illness, substance addiction, incorrectly prescribing medications, sexual misconduct, and not providing a patient with appropriate post-operative care. States that discipline physicians for personal, unethical conduct, such as fraud and sexual abuses, may do so if the behavior shows moral turpitude; what the doctor did mirrors their character and integrity. Oftentimes, physicians are disciplined by state boards, but can retain their licenses.
How the Process Works
The misbehavior and evidence are generally reported to the state board of medical examiners. If the evidence is credible enough to establish that there was unethical conduct, disciplinary action will be initiated. This can include fines and dismissal from membership. Serious cases may lead to revoking the doctor’s license.
Challenging the Disciplinary Action
Medical boards walk the fine line between over-disciplining and under-disciplining physicians. Physicians that have been unfairly accused have legal recourses and their cases can be based on several claims. If the investigative and disciplinary processes were followed incorrectly, there could be a case made for unconstitutional or incompetent treatment by the medical board. This includes physicians not receiving equal protection that was given to licensed nonmedical professionals. These could all lead to the physician’s right to due process being violated. Medical boards can also show bias, especially if one member is an acquaintance or is in competition with the physician. One doctor even made a claim of double jeopardy once, claiming that the board was trying to punish him twice for the same offense.
Medical Boards Face Scrutiny
Since doctors are seen as community figures, they must constantly monitor their behaviors to guard against license revocation. Medical boards are also open to scrutiny if their judgements violate physicians’ rights. Some have also faced charges of failing to discipline physicians; in one case, a patient sued the medical board for negligence, claiming that they did not discipline her doctor for his negligent performance. This went to the state’s highest court, who judged that the board was immune from the charge. In certain cases, state governments can also get involved.
Philadelphia Physician Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Provide Effective Legal Representation
If you are facing disciplinary action by a state medical board, contact the experienced Philadelphia physician lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. today. Call us at 215-569-1999 or complete an online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we represent physicians throughout Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.